022: Elaine Marino - Equaling the playing field for the underrepresented in tech

Elaine Marino spearheads a movement championing the underrepresented in the tech industry. Specifically, she has been working in Colorado founding Equili, a company creating and running diverse tech programs such as GoCode Colorado and the LadyCoders Conference. Elaine left the Fortune 500 advertising industry to become a Ruby on Rails developer. It was then when she experienced first-hand the tremendous gap in diversity within software development.  It was apparent that women and minorities were woefully underrepresented throughout the community. Elaine saw clearly how change could be made for the better. Elaine’s viewpoint on the tech industry is unique in that she is an insider and an outsider.

Early in her endeavors, it became clear that some different career enrichment strategies for women and minorities were necessary to become successful. Learning and developing these techniques formed the knowledge base that Equili was founded upon. Elaine also recognized the critical need to pass this strategic knowledge onto other women and other diverse groups looking to thrive in the tech industry. Elaine knows first hand how diverse, unique perspectives are invaluable in the work space. During her tenure at Equili, she has been designing, implementing, and managing events, workshops and content aimed at bringing more diversity into the tech arena. Elaine’s extensive background brings a multitude of experience to all her clients. There is a sweet-spot where technology enhances the lives of people and communities — that is where Elaine thrives.

In this episode we talk about:

  • the three key moments in her life that drove her to lead a movement around diversity and inclusivity and the intention it takes to create a safe environment for all in the tech space (and beyond)

  • the concept of being “only and lonelied”

  • ageism, sexism, and racism in the tech industry and if women are the only ones at risk

  • the current state of affairs in the tech industry relative to diversity and inclusivity as well as the potential future for the tech community

  • her advice to young people with the potential of being marginalized in the workplace and how they can be proactive about setting themselves up for success in the tech space


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Elaine Marino: 00:00:00 I think more what worries me more about tech is the big data and the trying to get answers about who people really are and not looking at their humanity and looking strictly at that data. And I think the further away we go from our humanity and looking at this with our heart and not our head, the worst we are, the more we intellectualize the conversation, the worse it is. And so that would be my other second point for people would be to really look at this as a human, as human beings and not as statistics, not as data points, not as getting defensive, but really having empathy for other people. And there they're life's experiences and really listening to them.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:50 Welcome to the vitalic project podcast where you'll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise. I'm Gabe Ratliff. I'll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that's drawn, not traced. All right, I'm stoked. Let's get to it.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:01:19 Hey guys, thanks so much for joining me for episode 22 with Equili founder, Elaine Marino. I met Elaine a few years ago working on a production for a company where she was actually teaching around inclusivity and diversity in the tech space and I was just enamored with her and the work that she's doing and is continuing to do and I just, I had to have her on the show and I'm so honored to have her speak about this topic that is still unfortunately a very relevant topic even in 2019 one of the things I love about this conversation that we have is that we really dive a little bit deeper and get to unpack what what's really at stake here and also what is really at the core of how we can move forward. A lot of people as Elaine mentions are kind of tired about the conversation and it's really more now about getting into a space of action and and what that actually looks like on the ground level as opposed to a lot of pontificating and still not seeing what's at the core of issues around diversity and inclusivity and being marginalized.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:02:43 And this is a topic that's been a lot more common with the white male privilege conversation that's happening. That's part of why I'm having this conversation with Elaine because I recognize that and many of us have, but there's still this barrier between having an understanding and truly, truly having an understanding of what that's like for someone who's been marginalized specifically for their entire life. Whereas we may have, may or may not have had moments or times where that's happened for us. I actually open up about a way that I was marginalized later in the show and as I even comment during the interview, I almost didn't bring it up because I really appreciated the moment where she asks me if I had ever been marginalized and I didn't have anything to say. And there's this long pause and I realized as the conversation continued on, you know, I was the, I kept, I was like, oh, I do know of of something that is that is relevant to that topic, but I almost didn't want to bring it up because the moment was so powerful to to just recognize that I didn't have something right off the bat because that's not how it is.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:12 And we're still able to have that moment in the interview. But I did decide to, to open up about something very personal that I feel like is, is, you know, it is a little inkling of what that feels like for people. And I love that we get into this conversation on this episode because it's such a prevalent topic in our society. Doesn't matter where you live, where you work, what you do. This is something that so many people deal with. Whether you're a woman, whether you're a person of color, whether you are young or old, I mean that we get into all kinds of things that really affect anyone. It doesn't matter who you are, but there's still ways in and different industries where people are continuing to be marginalized and I'm just very honored that we were able to have such a great and authentic conversation because as, as Elaine brings up, she's older, is a Latina and is also a woman and so she has all three things that she can speak to as a leader of this movement that she is spearheading in the tech industry.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:31 A little bit about Elaine, as I said, she's the founder of equalize and is spearheading an industry wide movement to transform diversity in the tech space. When Elaine left the fortune 500 advertising industry to become a ruby on rails developer, she experienced firsthand the tremendous diversity gap in software development. Women and minorities were woefully underrepresented. She saw clearly how change could be made for the better and she now has a unique perspective on the tech industry as both an insider and an outsider. During her tenure at equalize, she has been designing, implementing, and managing events, workshops and content aimed at bringing more diversity into the tech arena. There is a sweet spot where technology enhances the lives of people and communities and that is where Elaine thrives in the episode. We talk about Elaine's years in advertising before transitioning into the tech industry and what that was like for her in both industries and how they differ.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:06:38 Fascinating. How the two differ and a little surprising. There were, there were a couple things I have to be honest like I wasn't expecting and it was disheartening, but also good to hear that there were some, some positives that are occurring in, in the, in the, the difference between the industries. We talk about the three key moments in her life that drove her to lead them. This movement around diversity and inclusivity and the intention that it takes to create a safe environment for all in the tech space and beyond. We talk about the concept of being only in loan lead, which is fascinating and I really wanted to dive deeper into that. Unfortunately, we only had so much time so I wasn't able to get as deep into that as I wanted. And we also talk about ageism, sexism, and racism in the tech industry. And if women are the only ones at risk, which is also very interesting. And we talk about the current state of affairs in the tech industry relative to diversity and inclusivity as well as the potential future for the tech community itself. And she also gives some advice to young people with the potential of being marginalized in the workplace and how they can be proactive about setting themselves up for success in the tech space. And without further ado, this is the interview I had with Elaine Marino.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:08:11 Hi Elaine! Thanks so much for being here. I'm so excited to have you on the show.

Elaine Marino: 00:08:16 Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here as well.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:08:19 So I thought to get us going, I mean we have, we have so much to talk about. I I love, ever since we met, I just, I fell in love with what you're doing. I love your story, especially to be, you know, a Latina woman in the tech industry and I love what you're doing in the industry too. Shine a light on diversity and inclusivity. And so I thought what we could maybe do is start off with where are your journey in the tech industry started and you know, when and where did that start for you?

Elaine Marino: 00:08:53 Yeah, absolutely. Well, I made a big career life change. Um, I started my career in advertising in Los Angeles and then moved to New York and I spent seven years in New York City in advertising and I worked my way up to a director level and found myself reporting actually to six men. Three were clients where you were a gentleman that owned the firm and it was really tough. It was a really tough environment to be in. Also because my client was part of the financial services industry and the financial crisis had just happened. And when I thought I was going to lose my job, what ended up happening is we actually doubled down on the work. There were a lot of layoffs, but our bank that we were working on, it's actually very strong. And so we got really, really busy and it was just a very stressful time.

Elaine Marino: 00:09:41 People who were at their worst and it was a very sexist environment. And I bring that up because of what we'll talk about in the future about the tech industry just so we can compare and contrast two different industries. And frankly it was very madmen ass. It really was. All the men at the top, um, were primarily white. They were all making decisions. Oh, that advertising for everyone else in the world. Um, and I was a go between between their wishes and desires and my team and the people that I represented. I was a very, very tough environment and I was just done. I was like, I am done with this industry. I am done with this job. I am never doing advertising again. And I even made a tiny whisper of like I'm never doing corporate America again. And I packed up all of my life and I moved from New York City to Boulder, Colorado.

Elaine Marino: 00:10:31 And Boulder was appealing to me for two reasons because I had grown up in Los Angeles. I wanted to move back left, but I did not want any more hustle in buffalo in my life. And the second reason is that my college roommate, uh, was getting her law degree at CEO and she was like, just come. It was very Boulder, chill out, lay on my couch being revered city. I couldn't imagine that. But I eventually got there and that's exactly what I did. I spent a month on her couch and was just chilling out and the people above her got evicted and I moved into that apartment and I stayed there for four years and I just really took stock. I started to insert myself into the community. I went to something called Boulder Open Coffee Club. I met all of the difference startup founders and I found myself getting really involved in the startup scene.

Elaine Marino: 00:11:20 And I was hired, um, by a startup, a couple of different startups actually to do marketing. I came from advertising and when I was doing marketing and as I was in these tech startups doing marketing, I realized that I did not understand the technology at all. I didn't know what it meant to be on a platform. I didn't know what it meant to be on a.net platform versus, um, building something with ruby on rails. I didn't understand any differences in the technology. And yet I would sit next to these guys primarily who were engineers and they were building all of, all of the products. But I didn't understand that I was supposed to mark it. And I started to ask questions, well, how did you learn and what are you building and why do you keep cursing and why do you keep saying we need to build this from scratch, but we need to scrap the code base.

Elaine Marino: 00:12:07 I, and just really got curious. And they told me they went to, you know, the University of Iowa and got their computer science degree and that's how they got where they were. And I remember thinking, there's gotta be a way for me to understand at least a little bit of what they're doing. Like this is just such a black box. And the other part that was really frustrating for me is that I had climbed the corporate ladder in New York and had gotten to a director level. And here I was like relegated to making sales decks and fixing the logo and sending out emails. Um, I really wanted to be part of the strategy and the decision making process and getting the product out to the marketplace in a real meaningful way. Because I was in marketing, I was not taken seriously because I didn't understand the technology.

Elaine Marino: 00:12:52 And um, at the time, uh, Cheryl Sandberg had just, um, become the CFO of Facebook and they hadn't gotten an IPO yet. And there was this Big New Yorker article about her that I read and in it they talked about how few women make it to the board of directors of tech companies and how few women make it to the top of tech companies. And why is that and why is she one of, you know, literally just a handful. And the answer the article came up with is that so few women, they're engineering degrees now I sense believe something different. But at the time it really resonated with me. I was like, it's so true. I don't know anything about the tech and I don't get a seat at the leadership table. They don't get to make decisions about product. I don't get invited to strategy meetings. I am literally doing, um, Facebook posts and that is not a good use of my skillset. And so around this time, the idea of learning to code in a code school popped up. And so I entered into one of the very first code schools in actually the country. This was in 2011 and I um, very blindly decided to learn the language of ruby and the framework of rails. And it was a 15 week intensive course and at the end of it I could build an app. I'm in Ruby on rails and that was the beginning of my tech journey.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:14:18 Wow. Yeah, it's pretty crazy. Yeah. That's awesome. Thank you. There's so much in there a that I've just been processing. I mean just thinking about, cause I, cause I'm also familiar, familiar and this is something that I was definitely going to touch on throughout because I'm familiar from the, whether it's the marketing side, the the web side in the tech world startup, I worked at several startups as well. And also in the production side with video production. All three of those industries are so male driven ever since the history of humans has been the, you know, the, I mean Madmen, I think you mentioned, I love that it really encapsulates,

Elaine Marino: 00:15:04 well in the ad agency I worked at in New York City was primarily television production. They started out as a TB production studio and then transitioned to advertising. So their base was that exact industry you're talking about really heavily male dominated. And then, I mean, if we want to go on a tangent here for a moment, those are the only ones telling the stories. Right. And so then all the media we're consuming is through their lens, um, and no one else's. And they're writing all of the ads. I mean when I talked about reporting the six men, two of them, we're the creative directors, one with the art director, the other was the copywriter, a very, very senior guys in the organization, but it was through their lens that we developed all of our materials.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:15:48 I had an episode not too long ago with Maggie Hart who's a writer director, and we had this amazing conversation about the women's voice and how finally starting to hear and see and understand the woman's voice and how different it is from a man's voice telling a woman's story or speaking to a woman's character or writing for a woman. I mean the one person I can say I feel like his is like an alien in this way is Aaron Sorkin. I feel like he is one of the few writers as a male who has this uncanny ability to write some really great female characters, but it's still a guy. And so that was something we had this conversation about that I absolutely adore is that in this space, in the, in the, the film, television media production space, we are finally in the last just handful of years starting to see and hear what it, what that voice is and how, and, and like really be able to interact with that in such an authentic way.

Elaine Marino: 00:16:59 Absolutely. And now that we're seeing it, it's really different. And Gosh, as a woman, I can just say it's very engaging. For me. I can think of three shows off the top of my head where I am like, wow, that is a really strong point of view from a female. And they've nailed it. Like they have me belly laughing. It's so accurate to my life.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:17:17 What are the shows?

Elaine Marino: 00:17:19 Um, let's see. Dead to me on Netflix, a fleabag, which I believe is on Amazon prime. Oh my goodness. I'm blinking on Oh, grace and Frankie also on Netflix. Um, grace and Frankie was the first one I remember watching the first season. I'm thinking, I've never seen them get so accurate about the female experience. And even though these are women that are much older than I am and much older than most women, I have young friends watching that show, you know, 30 29 year old women watching that show and resonating because they're getting the voice. So accurate.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:17:56 Yeah.

Elaine Marino: 00:17:56 in the show.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:17:57 Yeah, love it. Yeah. Thanks for mentioning those because those are great. Those are great. Yeah.

Elaine Marino: 00:18:03 Are really great. And they're available. They're all a little dark in some ways do,

Gabe Ratliff: 00:18:06 right. One of the things I loved was that opener to grace and Frankie where you see the, the husbands, you know, it's kind of slipping each other, grabbing each other's hand and just seeing that side too where they're speaking to this, this whole, and it's reality. It's real life. Like these things are happening and there's, I mean this is going a whole different direction, but I mean there have been so many people for so many of so many years that had been oppressed because they, they couldn't own who they were. And because people are so, you know, against being able to just be free and be who they are. And it's so nice to see these stories like that that are not from a guy's point of view. It's from a female's point of view, but you get to see this like really this whole different authentic light on human interaction and these relationships that people have that that can come from this place of, you know, this, this place has been available to us for so long in storytelling.

Elaine Marino: 00:19:10 Absolutely. And well, what I was going to say, I mean to bring it back to the, I guess the conversation is that that is what inclusion actually really looks like. It's the perspectives of many, right? And it, and it actually includes also a different perspective for men, right? For so long it hasn't been a very narrow story for men as well. And so you bring up a very good point about grace and Frankie of the male characters have just some adept, just as much depth and perspective that is different than we've seen in a lot of media and television and what's coming forth. And I really, I just love the area we're in. I so appreciate it. I love the creativity. I think we're really seeing some big moves towards inclusion, uh, and we still have a ways to go, but that I've never seen before.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:20:02 Yeah, yeah. I'm glad to hear that. That was actually one of my later questions for you is, is you know where we're at and where we're going. So I wanted to, to jump back into this journey you've been on as a Latino woman in this, this tech now, now in the tech world, and start kind of moving forward and, but I'd love to hear, are there any key moments in that journey that helped motivate this mission? I mean, you mentioned when you were at the Ad Agency in New York, but since you came to boulder and Colorado and she, you know, shifted into the tech world, are there any key moments that, that were just there defining as far as you recognizing that you want make a stand and have your own legacy that you're leaving in this way or this, this mission?

Elaine Marino: 00:20:54 Yeah, absolutely. There, there are definitely some seminal moments for me. Two of them were, the first was leaving advertising on the second was recognizing that, um, I wasn't going to be able to enter tech through marketing with any sort of respect that I hate that I thought I, it felt I deserved, which is a whole other conversation for those that are in tech but are not, um, technical how little respect they receive. But the second, I'd say the third really, really seminal moment was I, um, had a really strong mentor, had a couple really strong male mentors in tech. Uh, they were so kind and generous with their time, with their attention, with really wanting to see me succeed. And one of them had me come to his office for a day and just shadow everyone and see what it's like to be in a real technical field.

Elaine Marino: 00:21:47 And I was stunned when I went into the office. I walked in and this, the day started with the standup meetings. I got to see everybody all at once in the fall. Yay. And I was the only woman in the building. And, and because I'm standing there looking at everyone and feeling slightly awkward and uncomfortable, uh, I got to really look out everybody. And it wasn't even that I was just, I'm the only woman. I was a little bit older then everyone tech skews very young. And I, you know, now that I do this for a living, I know the stats, but the average age of a software developer is about 29 and the mean is 27. And that's what it felt like. It felt like everyone was about 27 years old and I was about 35. Uh, I think the guy that ran the office was 40, and, and I thought, gosh, this is very young group of people.

Elaine Marino: 00:22:37 So everyone's male, everyone's young, everyone was white. I at least presented as white. Uh, same thing with straight. Everyone presented as straight. Everyone also presented a very fit. I mean, that's not shocking for boulder or Colorado, but honestly, you know, everything I'm describing over the years, I would go to conferences and I would go to San Francisco and Seattle and New York and Los Angeles and all these other tech hubs and it was the same over and over again. Young, healthy fit. And, and then I'm talking to them and getting to know them. And y'all went to the same affluent schools. They're all from a very similar socioeconomic background. You don't have a lot of diversity in life's experiences in the room. And my thought at the moment was, is don't they know this is weird? Don't they know? It's weird to only work with people, only work with people who are like themselves, not just gender, not just race, but down to all their parents are probably still married.

Elaine Marino: 00:23:36 They all probably went to, you know, schools that cost over hundreds of thousands of dollars, you know, really, really narrow focus, socioeconomic backgrounds. And honestly, the next seminal moment I had was recognizing that the issue in tech I saw with a socioeconomic one, yes, there is a big gender disparity. Yes, there's a huge race disparity. What I find driving it is the socioeconomic background. Um, and for example, it's the VC model, right? You have the vcs pushing cash into these startups, which is primarily where tech is living. And the vcs themselves are from very, very elite schools. There's some crazy statistic that 60% of all vcs went to three universities, Harvard, MIT and Stanford. 60% went to three schools. And so that is one of the top down culture that is being driven in tech. Now there are very many established huge tech firms, right? There are Google and Microsoft and Amazon, but they all started small and they've grown into these behemoths with these very large diverse problems.

Elaine Marino: 00:24:47 So that was my, to answer your question, that was my big moment. And then I started to ask why, why does it look this way? But I would say the next big thing that happened for me is that I had a really hard time breaking into the industry. A really hard time. I had a hard time, um, on job interviews. I had a hard time with the way they were interviewing me. I had a hard time with the whole process and I was far enough along in my career at 35 and having been a director in another industry to know that they were doing things that they didn't even know they were doing to keep me out. And that was the big moment Aha for me is I started to talk about that. I started to get up at conferences and say, you know, when you bring me single only woman into a room of eight men and expect me to code live, it's nearly impossible.

Elaine Marino: 00:25:35 It's such an intimidating situation. And then, and now what I will tell groups of all men are, imagine your doctor says you need to go and do yoga and you go to this yoga studio and the door says welcome. And everyone that's in there says, welcome. It's so great to have you. And you are 30 pounds fatter and the only man and 15 pounds and 15 years older than everyone in the room. And it's all young women who are super fit and you just feel out of place. You can't help but feel out of place. Uh, and here I was asking, being asked to perform at very high levels in situations that were incredibly, um, difficult to be the only what I call the only and the lonely. Uh, and that's what it is, is being only in lonely over and over and over again for any underrepresented person in tech for sure.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:26:28 I, so my wife is in, uh, the corporate world and she is in the same boys club and we have this conversation all the time. And it is so hard for me because I the antithesis of this type of world. I mean that's why you're on the show is because I want to share this. I want people to hear what this is like and I want to speak to where we are, where we're going. Shed a light on people like yourself that are making a stand and making a difference and

Elaine Marino: 00:27:01 well, and so what it really comes down to, um, are the inclusion practices. Everyone talks about hiring for diversity and we're far enough along in the conversation now that people really know you have to make people feel welcomed and included. And that is actually done with intention and you have to want to be intentional. It doesn't just happen. And so that's where it gets really, really difficult for companies. She went to change behavior. It's, it's changing behavior and there are lots of tips and tricks and tactics for doing it. But if you don't make it smart, talented people feel welcome to, they'll leave. Right. Because, and there's some crazy statistic that the women leave tech and they go start their own businesses. And I thought to myself, Huh, that's exactly what I did. Because after a while you're like, you know, I, I'm really tired of having to prove myself over and over and over again. A and only to be made to feel excluded and maybe a little dumb. And so I'm going to prove them wrong and just go do my own thing. And, and I know a lot of women that eventually ended up doing that.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:28:12 Yeah. And the other big thing too, cause I, I've done some work, uh, one of my clients was galvanize and being able to have that direct connection to women coders and you know, just different people in the industry and be able to hear from them, you know, what is this like? And hearing them talk about even when, when you and I met having those conversations around, you know, what it's like to be, cause the difference about women in tech is that women can have children and that's another thing that can happen. You know, just like you were talking about, it skews younger. And another thing that enables that is that women, you know, as they start to get a little bit older, they are also hitting a point where they're wanting to have children and that gives them that break where they can, you know, things change, their priority changes.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:29:03 And when you have a life to take care of, that can be this moment where you're like, is it I'm taking care of my own child or am I going back to this thing that I'm passionate about or how do I handle that? You know, and I think that's been one of the things that I've seen also be a big part of the dropoff is with women in tech and where men just can just keep it just in being, yes. They just keep charging the head cause they're like, well I'm going to, I can keep going. I don't have to do this. I'm going to keep bringing home the bacon while you know, my wife or partner or friend or whoever it that is also in this space is going to stay home and take care of their, their daughter's son.

Elaine Marino: 00:29:47 Oh yeah, no, this is, this is a huge topic. Um, you know, we were talking a little bit about age for a moment. I'm going to go there and then I'll circle back to women. Many age out of tech as well. There comes a point, probably I would say 40 they start to see it. They probably don't really feel it till about late forties, 45 50 where there the old person and they're looked at differently. And what tends to happen is they start to age out as well because they recognize that they want to start spending time with their children, right? Or that they haven't spent time with their children and um, they stayed in the game through those years. Whereas to your point, women get taken out to some extent, or to a large extent I should say. I shouldn't downplay it at all.

Elaine Marino: 00:30:34 So I'll circle back to the men in the age aging out in a second. For Women, you're exactly right. In general, corporate America is not kind to women having babies. And actually I think corporate America, Corporate America is actually more friendly than let's just even say retail or farm workers or hotel staff, right? Like most, I think only 14% of all American companies have a maternity leave policy. Uh, I know that that's shocking. But what most companies do is have you take short term disability. It's not a policy. It's you're going to just go out on a medical leave. And a lot of tech companies, you know, are now having larger and more elaborate maternity and paternity plans, which is great. And really, really needed. But I will tell you it's, it's about attitude and behavioral shift as well. So I'll give a couple of examples.

Elaine Marino: 00:31:27 I know a woman who was, um, the only senior person at a pretty well known and, um, large startup they're at now, the 300, 400 person a level. And she was the only senior woman and she, uh, had a baby and was really looked down upon for leaving at four o'clock to go and feed her newborn because she told me she couldn't physically pump enough milk. The seed, the baby, as long as the business hours were right. So she would drop the baby off in the morning and then have to leave at four to go and feed her child and felt tremendous guilt and shame from, um, all the other executives because she wasn't in the office. Right. She ended up, she ended up leaving. Um, and that's another woman gone. Right. And then you look at these statistics about why women don't make it to the top and then you, and you think, well, they're very real marginalizations that happened to them along the way that they, and then you're asking her to decide between her job and her career and her child.

Elaine Marino: 00:32:34 Right? There's almost no one that can not choose their in that instance. And especially we're talking about feeding the child and then the women that do make it work, they're home on slack and answering, um, questions and working while they're with their children and now they feel like they're failing both. Right? They're failing both there, um, job and they're failing their child because they're not spending time directly with their child. And so they're trying to solve for that a little bit in tech. But I think there's still a long, long ways to go in terms of attitudinal shift of, Oh, this is a good thing for society to have healthy children. Let's give people the time and space they need to do this and then come back to work. Ah, and work, you know, at your full capacity as opposed to your half capacity and making your life more miserable.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:33:28 Yeah. The other thing that I, I was just thinking about as you were speaking to that topic is the other thing that we talk about a lot, my wife and I is around how women are perceived. You brought this up and I just, it sparked it when I was thinking when you were talking about, you know, if you're put in a room and you're coating, there's all these dudes standing around and you're trying to code live. It's the same thing in a meeting. Right. And like the common quote that, that my wife will bring up is around how when a man walks into the room, he's assumed to be competent and that when a woman walks in this into a room, she has to essentially prove it. Yeah. It is assumed that she's not competent and that is rampant in whatever, whatever industry that you're talking about.

Elaine Marino: 00:34:21 So I w always used to say that, and this will go back to my advertising days, that tech was more subversively sexist. And here's my example. In advertising, the men were outright sexist to me, meaning that they would make sexual comments, they would comment on my body, they would comment on other women's bodies, they would talk about who was the cutest. They would B way above board did true sexual harassment. You know, I had a client call me every day and say something inappropriate to me. However, it was always straight to my face so I knew what I was dealing with. It wasn't right. It didn't make it okay. It causes a lot of power, dynamic issues, but at least it was to my face. And the second part of that is as for all their sexism, they never once questioned my ability to do my job.

Elaine Marino: 00:35:16 As a matter of fact, they were very complimentary to my skills. Elaine is great. She managed as well. Let's give her more work. What is her opinion? Very interesting. I was never questioned on my ability to do my job, even as they were commenting on my outfit or you know, calling me in and ask me what I'm doing later in inappropriate ways in tech. What I found, it was the exact opposite. Never any sexist comments. Nothing. Nothing objectionable in terms of sexual harassment? No. That is not true of all women. That has been, that was my experience. I've been, might also have been because I was a little bit older than all of them, but the point is is that I never felt sexually harassed. Instead, it was a constant steady pressure to perform and a constant questioning. Is she smart enough to be in this room?

Elaine Marino: 00:36:07 Is she smart enough to sit at this keyboard? Is she smart enough to be on the stage at this conference? Is she smart enough to be here every day? All the time, over and over and over again. And that was far more dangerous because I was dealing in an uneven playing field and I never knew what was coming my way, you know, for all the piggishness of the advertising world, at least I knew what I was dealing with and no one was questioning my ability to do my job in tech. I never knew what I was dealing with and I was in a constant state of an uphill battle where I was never going to be smart enough, I was never going to be confident enough. And I really feel, and this is why really launched me into diversity and inclusion as I was starting to get on stage and say, you know, I'm really smart, I'm really confident I have changed my life and my career to try and go an entirely different direction. And if some company would just give me a chance and teach me the rest of the way, like what the rest of what I need to know, which is another point I'll come back to in a minute. If some company would just gives me a chance, I would be fantastic for your organization. I already have management experience. I already can talk in front of people. I can sell. I say to this day I would've been a great technical salesperson and who knows if does diversity and inclusion work doesn't work out. My next step is technical sales. These were all the money is due.

Elaine Marino: 00:37:32 But my point is is that nobody could get past that if my code wasn't exactly right. I remember once getting to an answer, not the best way and the senior managers saying, well that's way too long. That's ugly. You know it was ugly code and the Guy I was coding with the phenome, he's like, yeah, but she got, she got it to work, it's working and they argued back and forth in front of me and I remember thinking I could never win. Like I was never going to win and this in this industry, in this cause even when I got it right, I was still wrong. What I will say is, is that, and the code schools have really started to work to fill this gap, is that I was in one of the very first code schools. I was in the first class. This was 2011. Um, this is it quite a ways ago. I did not have enough skills to just be hired on the spot as a junior developer. And yet my issue was is I didn't know nothing. I could spin up a rail that I could debug code bases, I could connect, um, multiple databases. Like I knew how to build out a model. Um, I knew how to do certain things, but I didn't have the oh grasp of working in a technical environment and

Gabe Ratliff: 00:38:51 okay,

Elaine Marino: 00:38:52 no one was willing to give me a chance to learn on the job or have any sort of training or I'm really get me to the level I needed to get to. And that I also felt it was a real detriment to the industry because nothing changes if nothing changes. And if all of those gentlemen that were in that original room with me there networks look just like them, just like my network looks just like me. Uh, there's a great quote from Aaron Schwartz that the real problem isn't racism or sexism. It's the fact that people like to hang out with each other that look like themselves. It's the truth. My network looks very similar to myself just as all those gentlemen in that room. Their network looks very similar to them. And so when the hiring manager says, hey, we need to hire another software developer, who do, you know they're going to pull from their pool that looks just like themselves.

Elaine Marino: 00:39:45 And it takes a lot of intention to break that cycle. And at the time the industry was not willing to be that intentional or break that cycle. And I think in some ways it's still not. I think in some ways it's still looking for the UNICORNS. The women that are so naturally gifted at coding that they're the best at it and they get the seat in the room. I like to tell people, and this is so disparaging, women cannot be mediocre coders. They cannot be mediocre or technical people. Uh, but men can be, there are a lot of mediocre people in tech who are men. But as a woman, I needed to be exceptional and to be in the room. And I see that a lot. Still the best woman. I know, they're exceptional and even they get tired of the culture and being marginalized.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:40:34 Yeah, I, I, you know, I have to say I 100% agree with you on that comment in idiot is disparaging, but I think it's not even that. I think it's everything, you know, you see it with actors. I was actually going to touch on this in a moment. The time's up. And the #metoo movements, you know, they got a lot of attention with, around the early stages of change and accountability in the entertainment industry because of their celebrity status. But it took so long. But they finally got that little bit of momentum and I was wondering around this community, is this an area that you're, you're totally speaking to that in a different way, but that was one of the things that I saw with that industry and you could hear from the women that they just have to work so hard. And I think that's true in so many industries. I love your comment. I wanted to echo back to this cause you, I love that clarification you had around when you were in the ad agency world verse or the Advertising World Versus Tech. And thank you for first saying that and clarifying that cause it's awful to hear that it's a thing but I love hearing that there is some change occurring, you know, across industries that they're, you know there, there is some hope and that's actually one of the things I wanted to start touching on

Elaine Marino: 00:41:54 on hope or gosh should be so much there.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:41:56 I know that there really was, I'm like kind of spinning cause there's so many things here, but I, I was just, I, the comment I was making was just around I think several industries. Uh, I'm a Gemini so I spin around a lot. There are several industries I find where women just have to work harder. And I think just in general, women just, they work so hard at it, just that life, right? They've been being a mother and all of the things that women have to juggle. I mean, I honor you, all of you because there is so much more that women have to do even with your bodies. I mean, and there's so many more things that you have to handle and to, to, to maintain then men have to, I mean, even your pain threshold. I remember having conversations with my mom growing up and just about how women have to go through so much more pain than men.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:42:49 And in that there's only certain things like, uh, like, uh, a gallstone or kidney stones or something like that. Even remotely close to being pregnant and, and having a child. And, and I just, I was blessed to have a mother that, that raised me well and that I was able to have these kinds of conversations with. Um, but it's one of the things that's also been so hard for me growing up to be, you know, a more sensitive type guy and like really be empathetic to what you go through as women. And I'm so excited to see that we're in this, this state of change.

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Gabe Ratliff: 00:44:05 What is the current state of affairs that you see in the tech community around equality and diversity? Like, what's the real deal, cause we were talking about what it was like and we're talking about the work that you've been doing, speaking and working with people around diversity and inclusion. But I'm curious, what is the current state as it is today,

Elaine Marino: 00:44:23 the current state as it is today? Um, there's so many things. I actually had a question for you, but it's not based on the current state. So go there and then we can come back to my question for you. Okay. So the current state is that the large company are really trying to enact change, but it's very slow. They let the problem get bigger than I think they, they can effect. And we're really seeing, honestly, we're really seeing a real case study and role unraveling around change management. How do you change an org that those, you know, when you have tens and hundreds of thousands of people in them, how do you move the needle in any meaningful way? Um, it's really interesting. We'll, we'll talk about Google first. You know, in 2014, they were pressured to publish their diversity numbers and, uh, they were actually quite shocking the fee, the women, the number of women in technical positions, students surprise me.

Elaine Marino: 00:45:22 I was around 17, 16% 17%, but the number of black employees total with was 2% and the number of, uh, Latin x employees total, it was 3%. And that was shocking. That is shocking. And in the years since they published that data, they've, you know, republished it, I believe in 2017, I don't have the latest numbers, but in 2017, they had gotten to 4% Latin and stayed at 2% black. Right? It's, it's a, and, and then another part of me is like, you know, when your numbers are that low for a population that's not that hard to recruit from in California, you're going to be a lot more drastic, uh, in your initiatives. And I don't see the drastic initiative happening. I see a lot of discussions. I see a lot of unconscious bias training. I see a lot of, um, making sure that they have more inclusive policies, uh, in their workforce, but they're not doing things like tying it to managers, promotions and compensation that you must hire, uh, that you must promote, that you must have a diverse workforce.

Elaine Marino: 00:46:34 That's where the rubber really meets the road. Uh, and I would say the same is true for most of tech. Well, I don't want to paint a bleak picture. My feeling is, is that it's tied to the economy, meaning that tech companies are doing really well. They have a lot of cash. They're not in a lot -- even when their sales are down, they're not under tremendous pressure because they have done so well for so long. I don't see them needing to be that drastic and tying it to managers compensation until they're either regulated too or they start to see the market need for it. And I think the market need is coming pretty quickly. They're way, meaning that the younger generations are farmer focused on inclusion. And it's important to them. And, and the really interesting fact is, is they only notice it when it's not there.

Elaine Marino: 00:47:30 And so what I'm wondering is, is if the market pressure will finally happen with the younger generations that forces these companies to really have to make change. Uh, Facebook is another one. No, they, they have a lot of, um, inclusion principles and yet their numbers don't reflect that a real diversity and inclusion. And so I'm wondering, I'm wondering when the tipping tipping point is for the users of Facebook for the, for it to really impact Facebook's bottom line. And so I think that's when you will see the real tipping point and change for Hollywood. I think, um, we're starting to really reap the benefits of it. You know, we talked in the beginning about, um, all this great content that's coming out written by women for women, you know, with these amazing characters. And, and that's the, the effect of the door opening for them.

Elaine Marino: 00:48:27 Right. And then passing through. Is it easy for them? No. Have things changed that much? It will remain to be seen. I do think Hollywood hit somewhat of a tipping point though. I think, um, the egregious nature of the criminal activity going on in Hollywood was enough. Two tip the scales. I also want to applaud the women that do have means and money and power for coming together and, and making it happen. You know, Reese Witherspoon is become a powerhouse. She's a massive producer. Ah, that is where real change occurs when they start investing. We start investing in ourselves and in other a marginalized group.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:49:12 Yeah. Here, here, here, here. Yeah. And, and I, I know I kind of plugged that little chunk in there about time's up in me too, that, that cause that was one of the things I was wondering and you, you referenced earlier about, you know, there's, there's a common occurrence and this is something I saw. So I mean it's, that was one of the things that came up a lot in the whole movement that happened in Hollywood that I witnessed. And it's so fascinating to me how ingrained the culture was onsets and in places where you, even when you thought you were in this place of inclusivity, you could totally miss the boat. I mean, I am white male privilege through and through. I've, I've, I, I have it. I, you know, and now it's a conversation that we're having and now one of the things that I love seeing is that there are people like myself that are trying to support this effort and are no longer being quiet about it, which I think is another little place to help.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:13 But the, the thing that is there was just so unsettling to me was that there were things that even though I was coming from, I was like always coming or trying to come from a place of being that way, being inclusive that you could still do things just inherently as a male or as a white male. All of that, you know, uh, whatever privileged that I have had. Not even recognizing the fact that you were doing or saying like saying something and not even at not having one iota of a negative intention. And then now being able to like, because so many people have come out with stories and these situations and more people are saying something and speaking up about it and being able to have that conversation. I'm seeing it on social media. I'm seeing, you know, we obviously saw it with the movements, uh, that stemmed out of Hollywood.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:51:06 But it was just mind boggling to me how, you know, there, there was so many times where people a didn't know it was happening, but then B, there would be people not standing up for it, you know? And so now that's happening. And that was what I wanted to bring this up around the tech community. And I was just curious relative to what we were talking about around the current state of affairs is you answered that around saying that the tech world has proven to be the opposite of what you saw in the ad world, which is, is so great to hear. But then there's the other part of it, right? Where you did have to prove yourself. You've had to prove yourself constantly over and over and over. And so that's part of what I'm really trying to get to here in this part of the conversation, um, is around, you know, where this differs from other industries.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:51:55 And then just like where we're at. And then my next question was around where are you seeing, you've talked some around where you're seeing the most change occurring and what people are trying to do, but I'm curious, do you feel like the industry is ready to begin? Can, you were talking about the young people and when the market's going to be ready, and I'm curious, do you think the industry is ready to begin this shift towards a more diverse, inclusive community? And is it, we have it happening a little bit. Um, but I'm curious, you know, where do you see this going now?

Elaine Marino: 00:52:30 Well, I'll tell you where I think it should go. I think there's a lot of diversity and inclusion fatigue that there's tig around the conversation and there's fatigue around talking about it. And there's fatigue around looking up the numbers and not seeing them move and, and on unconscious bias trainings. And you know, I think people are just

Gabe Ratliff: 00:52:49 okay,

Elaine Marino: 00:52:49 exhausted and frustrated and in some ways just over it. But where I think it needs to go is very much to the individual level. If you care about this, if it is important to you as an individual, then educate yourself. No where your privilege lies because we all have it. We all have different privileges and speak up a stand up and things that you can do immediately. You know, you can mentor someone that is not like you. You can be mentored by someone who is not like you. You can sponsor people who you think are amazing and if you're in a position of power in organization, makes sure that you're watching them through their career and the handing them opportunities or saying to hiring manager, hey Sophia, she's fantastic. You should take her from my org even though I love her and put her in your org because it's a promotion.

Elaine Marino: 00:53:46 It's making sure that you're compensating people fairly. If you're a manager and you have the power to choose compensation, just know that even 0.5% more to a man versus a woman is going to, that is where that 70 cents gap comes in because it's not initial, it's over time. It's like compounded interest at that 0.5% he'll continue to keep getting, getting that 0.5% and she won't. And it compounds over time because she never makes up that money. So it's things like that. It's being really understanding of compensation, of succession planning, who live on, who are you developing? Do you have women? Do you have any black employees? Do you have any Latin x employees? Do you have any Asian employees that are in the pipeline that can become a manager that then can become a VP because the dropoff happens along the way. And so it really comes down to the individual level.

Elaine Marino: 00:54:46 Now let's say you're not a manager. Let's say you're an individual contributor. What can you do? You can learn, you can learn about your privilege, you can learn, uh, the history in this country and where some of these systems came from. And where they came up and how you can utilize your privilege to help those that are less privileged. Oh, who are frankly marginalized. Uh, and this is comes to the question I wanted to ask you. Have you...and then I'm going to explain why I'm asking it. Um, have you ever been marginalized in your life? Just you even pausing like proves my, my little point that I like to tell everyone I hate making the white man the villain in the story, um, or the, uh, other and the story, uh, or what we're opposing or up against. But instead, what I like to say is, is that these men are not bad men.

Elaine Marino: 00:55:42 They're not evil men. They're not even with malintent most of the time. But what hasn't happened to them is they've never been marginalized a day in their life. And so when someone comes forward and says, I've been marginalized, that empathy gene is not there, that ability to understand isn't fully there. And so it's really easy for them to say, that didn't happen. Or Joe's a really good guy. He would never say that like that. He didn't mean it like that. They can't relate. Okay. To the marginalization. And that is what I would tell all the men listening is to really dig deep and learn about the stories of marginalization. I think that was the most important part of the me too movement. The sheer number of women that came forward. I think it shocked men to know that our life experience is almost a constant state of marginalization.

Elaine Marino: 00:56:40 That there's not a single woman I've ever met who has not been a cat called or commented on her body or been made to feel, um, insecure about her looks and how she presents herself to the world and has not been sexualized in some way. And then you take that all the way to the other end of the spectrum, um, to rape and assault. And that's one in four women. So with 100% on one end has been harassed in some way out in the public. Okay. 25% of reported cases on the other end. And I think that's just that sheer number coming forward started to help men understand that there is a marginalization that's in a constant occurrence in some people's lives. And then, and if you are a black woman, it's all that much worse if you are a Latin x woman, all that much worse, um, black man all that much worse.

Elaine Marino: 00:57:42 And so it is really, I would really challenge all of us that have privileged to understand and know our privilege. Um, and if you think, well, I am a very marginalized person, I would challenge do you have a disability? Um, have you ever been in combat? Have you, um, ever had trauma? Uh, because that's the other thing. There are also hidden marginalizations that people make, right? Um, maybe when you assume someone is straight and they're not, and so I would just really challenge everyone to educate themselves. Read the books. No, you're history. Start to think about your privilege and change it that way. And that is where I have hope for tech. I think there are a lot of really good people in tech who want to see the change, who are tired of talking about diversity and inclusion. And so I would challenge all of them to dig deep, do your inner work, and then use your powers of privileged to make sure that you are getting people who do not look like the status quo into positions of power and then the balance. And then what should happen is things will balance themselves out. Because right now what it is, it's just a very imbalanced, um, environment. Ah, it's something like that. Gosh, 78% of leadership in tech is white male. You know, that's a very unbalanced number. Um, it should be a lot less. It should be a lot more balanced. And that is ultimately where we're headed towards. That's my moment of hope for everyone.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:59:17 Oh, here, here. I mean that we had the same conversation. We just watched the democratic debates, um, was that a week ago? And we watch both nights and we were having conversations after each one about the people that were up there. And one of the comments that I made to my wife was, I have to be honest, I, it's because this what you just said is the same in our government as it is in the tech space. Right? Or as the entrepreneurial startup business, all of it. You know, the comment I made to her is that I actually, I'm Kinda, I'm what you're talking about with kind of being done talking about the, you were saying some people are tired of having the conversation around diversity and inclusivity and want to just take action and be doing things and, and shifting it so that it's not a conversation anymore.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:00:03 It's just a reality of having inclusion. Which in 2019 yeah, I agree. And that was the comment that I made to her about the people that were up there. I was like, I honestly am kind of tired of listening to the old white dudes say the same crap over and over. I loved hearing the diverse angle because the best moment was when Kamala Harris commented about being marginalized as an African American woman. And like when they were talking about race in the community and she's like, I am that, I am that. How can you speak when she was talking against Biden, and I know we're getting political here, but I just thought it was such a great example where as she was commenting on how can you be able to under it, this is exactly what you just said. It's like how can you be able to speak to Ike? Like I Gabe, I can't speak to what you've been through. And that's why I'm so honored to have you here too, to be able to speak to these things and, and to, to put out with your experience and the work that you're doing, these, these fantastic ways that we can go out and continue to do the, to, to support this effort. But that was one of the things that I, oh, go ahead.

Elaine Marino: 01:01:23 Well, no, I was just gonna say, and, and doing math, you're using your privilege to get those voices out there. Like that is, this is how it is all done. Right. And I actually didn't watch the democratic debate, but what those older gentlemen are not used to is having to give this stage over. Just someone that doesn't look like themselves and to take a step back and not be the lead. You know, it would have been smarter for Biden to say, you know what, I don't actually know the female experience, but I, I would love to hear from Kamala Harris what is like to be a black woman in the Senate rather than trying to answer it. Right. I don't know what the question was, but do you understand that taking it a way center stage and giving it to her is actually the act of inclusion?

Elaine Marino: 01:02:13 And that is why it's so difficult because it's intentional and it's also you have to have the recognition of your own place in the world. I do think, I think we're, what worries me more about tech is the big data and the tying to, Gosh, trying to get answers about, uh, who people really are and not looking at their humanity instead of looking in and looking strictly at that data. Um, and I think the further away we go from our humanity and looking at this with our heart and not our head, the worse we are, the more we intellectualize the conversation, the worse it is. Uh, and so that would be my other second point for people would be to really look at this as a human, as human beings and not as statistics, not as data points, not as getting defensive, but really having empathy. Four other people and there they're life's experiences and really listening to them.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:03:20 Oh, here. Here. Agreed. I was going to ask, I'm going to start winding it down. I know you're, you're time is getting close here. Um, I wanted to ask a couple more questions and I have a couple of fun like wrap up questions I like to do at the end, but I wanted to ask, you know, when you speak to young people who are getting it, you know, which I imagine has to be just so fulfilling to be able to take this type of mission and be able to speak in this, speak through that lens too. People that are wanting to get into the tech world. What do you say to young people that are wanting to get into the tech world and, and uh, that might have these issues with inclusivity that are being marginalized?

Elaine Marino: 01:04:04 Oh yeah. Um, I have two pieces of advice, maybe more. Um, one is to find your people outside of the situation that you're in. So let's say you're the only a person of color and the only woman in the office, which happens a lot of the time, right? You're a black woman, you're the only, only on multiple levels. Definitely go to a woman of Color Conference for women in tech. Definitely belong to online groups and slack channels that are just for your group of people, a place that is safe, where you can bend, where you can find kindred spirits, where you can be mentored and, and frankly just be able to be loved and appreciated. Uh, you definitely need that counterbalance. I would also say that I would really encourage you to, um, mentor a young white man because, uh, they don't know what they don't know and they're never gonna know it unless they are, um, learning from someone who is in a position of power.

Elaine Marino: 01:05:12 So if there is a new young man who's come on board, maybe he's an or entry level, go in and mentor him and be that authority figure. Make sure that you're part of the interview process so that people see a black woman, right? Being the interviewer. So putting yourself in positions where you are seen as an authority. Uh, I also would say to do publish to be um, coding and open source, uh, putting your thoughts, ideas, your work out into the world is also very important. There are going to be trolls. It is going to be, um, difficult. But uh, that is where your support network comes in. That is where going to the all black women conferences come in. Um, that is where your mentor, where you go to to get back love and support. But it's a at the both and is what, um, my suggestions are for those that are coming into the industry.

Elaine Marino: 01:06:10 And then if you are on the other side, if you are, um, you know, young white men who are in the industry really thinking about, um, mentoring, uh, going to girl develop it classes and being an instructor, um, really trying to learn what the experience is and then also really, really, um, checking yourself if you're questioning what a woman is saying, if you're questioning what she is doing more so than you would your male colleague. Um, or in a way that is aggressive no matter what. That was another thing I saw when I was in tech that really surprised me. The men were aggressive with each other as well about their code and seeing, you know, calling each other names and no dumb ass. That's not what you would do there.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:57 Hmm. Really

Elaine Marino: 01:06:58 hacking their tone all around and upleveling the conversation to be about colleagues and respect and kindness. Right. Um, and not this juvenile competitive environment.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:07:10 Yeah. And I think that's something that I can totally concur. I mean that's, that was in the startup world for me as well, whichever side I was on the, that, the tech and the marketing side, um, or in production. And I, I truly, uh, believe that, that a lot of those tendencies can, you know, the thing about the startup world that I, it's a double edged sword and, and I remembered thinking about this when I was in it, is that I love how scrappy and Nimble and, and I love that, that energy, that pulsates through those environments, but it's also because it's like that there can be this, that scrappiness can sometimes have that little extra edge to it. Like you're talking about where when you're interacting with each other, it's a little bit looser, you know, and it's not quite as refined in, you know, people drop f bombs and meetings and all of these things, you know, and you think, oh, you know, this is a really open, progressive environment and so I can be a little bit looser with my tongue.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:08:16 Yeah. Yeah. It's the same with the leadership, you know, leadership can also crack down and even do it silently. And that can just lead down the chain where there's just that you just, we were talking about it like pressure, right? Where the pressures is getting to people and that, excuse me, where you're wanting to, you know, there was even a turning point that I've seen at a couple of places where it goes from competition and wanting to just be really good at your craft and wanting to, you know, keep your job and all those things, you know, keep, keep working for this place, but where it starts to turn dark and it becomes this place where you squash your brother and sister, throw them under the bus so that you can keep your job.

Elaine Marino: 01:09:04 That goes to the BC model, right? I had a VC at a conference say we break more companies than we build, right? They, they put in this huge influx of cash so that you'll build the product faster so that you'll get it to market stronger, right? And all that pressure to perform, um, in a shorter amount of time will make or break accompany. And in particular who gets hit hardest or the people and you know, we talked a little bit about, um, women having babies and um, and even men aging out of this because nobody can work at that level forever and some people thrive in that environment, but then they go have breaks, right? The company sells or there's a big round of layoffs and they take a break. It's a not a sustainable model for humanity. And so I also think that that is a real detriment to diversity and inclusion is this idea of, um, we must perform at a certain level in order to, uh, succeed. You, you lose out on the people aspect of that. For sure.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:17 Yeah. I don't know if this is, this is a little bit of a, I'll keep it brief. This was a little bit of a detour. I was just thinking about, um, to something that you brought up earlier and I don't know if this'll take away from that moment because I actually really appreciated that moment, but I did want to share it with you. I did come up with a moment, uh, or at least a couple of times where I was marginalized.

Elaine Marino: 01:10:40 Okay. Oh, and I meant to tell you, I wanted to apologize for cutting you off and not letting you finish and I hope I didn't offend you. I wanted to come back and say that I just to give you, give you a moment to, to get the answer. But I was like, well let me, while he's getting it go off on this tangent, so I apologize.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:58 No, not at all. I actually was, was sitting here thinking about, I was going back and forth around bringing this up, but I really appreciate it having that moment, that as the moment in the show and having that silence and then having speak to that silence because it is true and it's, I am, I don't want to bring this up because I want to be like, oh no. I thought of one. It's not like that. It's because of the, the relevance to what happened because when I was young, I was actually sexually abused a couple of times. Bye. Babysitters. And they were men as well. And so I th I wanted to mention that because I was young, but I, I remember the second one and I was old enough to remember that one. And I think a big part of those happening have been able to give me that little bit of insight that I've had that led me down this path of wanting to be an ambassador for this topic, you know?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:12:03 And then how and why I wanted to have you on the show because there is a little bit of me that that can recognize what that's like and has been because that is a trauma that happened and you know, so it does speak to that, but it's also, it doesn't outweigh a lifetime of privilege. And so I wanted to make that statement and to also just share that to be transparent from my side because that's also something that I feel like does give me that little bit of insight to be able to understand what that can feel like for people even though there's been so many other instances where that wasn't the case, you know, as, as a white male. Well,

Elaine Marino: 01:12:47 thank you for sharing. And I'll also say what's beautiful about you sharing that deep trauma is that hopefully you've made it more accessible for other men to share that as well. Right. That, that they can find a safe space and not feel that they can't share something that has happened to them. Anyways, I want to applaud you for sharing and I apologize for putting you on the spot, but I got to was good. I think we got to a good place. Uh, you also bring up something else that I get asked a lot, which is, um, what about diversity of thought and um, I think it's actually really important to recognize that it's very difficult to have diversity of thought if everyone in the room have gone to the same kind of school and grown up in the same neighborhoods and it's within five years of age of each other and, you know, they all identify as straight and they all make about the same amount of money and you only have diversity of thought in that room based off of life's experiences and the kind of life experience you're talking about.

Elaine Marino: 01:13:55 It really does qualify because it does open a window to trauma. It does open a window too. Wow. People who experienced trauma all the time. I know what that is because I experienced trauma. You know, I meet people all the time. Everyone has a different life story. And so I'm, sometimes people have children with disabilities or they have a parent who was deaf or they have a brother, uh, who died in combat. The, that, those life's experiences, that's where you get the diversity of thought because that's when somebody comes to the table and said, you know, um, maybe we should put an alarm on this app in case someone's in danger or, you know, maybe we should make this more accessible to someone who is deaf because that's where their life's experiences come from. And so I do think it's really important for, um, men to really think about when they've been marginalized and then tap into that feeling when someone shares or expresses a time that they have been marginalized.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:15:03 Yeah. Agreed. And what a great example, you know, to, to, to have that ability to come from those experiences where you can end up really making an impact, a positive impact in that app or offering whatever it might be. Because because you didn't hold back, you know, because you actually stood up. And because that was a space where people could support that kind of a thing being brought up in like, because it came from some experience like that and being able to be in a space where you can share that, it proves how important it is to create those kinds of spaces at work and with your colleagues when you're working on a project because whatever it is, and however you touched that thing, the app, what the, the, the tool, the resource, whatever that might be. These things that we deal with in, in life, especially in tech, I mean tech is just, it just is, is, has infiltrated all of our lives in all kinds of ways.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:16:11 And so even the little, the, I was almost gonna say littlest, the smallest thing can have such relevance. Just like you said, like something that could save someone's life because they had this thought of, Hey, I have this reference. I mean that's the thing we're seeing with accessibility in so many things now that used to be this thing that, I mean I remember when I worked at the Denver Center and was doing web design and email design, that was a constant, that was a constant conversation we were having around accessibility because it was so important to that demographic because a lot of older people go and support the arts and whether that's in sponsorships or just getting tickets and they, they, you know, they, they really want to support that. And so they're a big demographic. And so that was constantly a conversation and just whether that was handicapped people, um, to whatever degree, whether that was hearing impaired, visually impaired, whatever it was, being able to cover the things that they needed to be able to come and support the arts and being, that was one of the things I loved about working there was I was constantly having to think about that when we were working on things.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:20 And that was a place that really honored that. And so that, that was, that was something that I was, I feel benefit. Uh, that was a very big benefit. But it was also on this things that where you recognize where other places aren't doing that or weren't doing that. And now it's becoming more of a thing because tech is so, like I said, it's, it's, it's, it's in everything now. We, I mean, is it for everything

Elaine Marino: 01:17:44 and what I would say, you know, you bring up a good point about accessibility and making the technology accessible, making the buildings accessible. Um, I like to say that inclusion should feel that. The hope is, is that it becomes almost like a natural reflex. So, um, we'll use people with disabilities for a moment. It's 30% of your staff for people in wheelchairs, everything you did from how you designed the lunch room to the outings you picked to go on the group to the types of benefits you offered would naturally include them because they were a large enough percentage. And what I find with a lot of companies is that the percentage of underrepresented, which is why they're underrepresented, or is it just too low for them to notice the policies? So the female population is just so low. Why do we need to have a special maternity policy?

Elaine Marino: 01:18:48 Why do we need onsite childcare? And so that's what I would really encourage companies or people to think of it that way. If your population with have enough of a percentage, it would just happen naturally because it would be part of the culture as opposed to trying to force it are inserted. And that is why it's so important. Two, to enact policies, even if you don't have the people, because they're not going to come unless they know they're welcomed. You have to signify too women, let's say in this case, that they will be welcomed and heard and seen and valued there. So if you have a really strong maternity leave policy and you have onsite childcare and you have program that will work for them in their lifestyles, maybe it's part time work, maybe it's flex time, maybe it's elder care. Maybe it's really good health insurance. Uh, maybe it's being able to stay home sick with a sick child. All of those things matter and you need to signify to that audience that you get that, that you see it, and then they will come.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:19:51 If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?

Elaine Marino: 01:19:57 Oh, am I going to, when do I get a billboard that said anything on it? What would it say? I think it would say, if you don't love yourself, ask yourself why and then love yourself anyway. I think that's what I would say. Yeah, that would be my message.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:20:15 What is the best or most worthwhile investment that you've made?

Elaine Marino: 01:20:19 Oh my goodness. I did an anti racism training with a woman named Katrice Jackson. Uh, her website I think is Katrice ology. She spells it Katrice, k. A. T. R. I. C. E. It is extremely difficult. It was very hard and it made me incredibly woke. I do not see the world in the same way I saw it before. I walked in there and it truly changed, uh, just about my perception. Almost everything. It is a real, a real game changer. Uh, it's specifically geared towards women and in particular white women. Uh, but it was a real, real game changer and it is not, it is not like sitting in a classroom with PowerPoint taking notes. It really challenges your, um, your inherent bias and racism and, uh, it made me a better person. I can honestly say that.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:21:26 Wow. Thank you for sharing that.

Elaine Marino: 01:21:28 You're welcome.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:21:29 Last two questions. Is there anything else that you'd like to say? Any final parting words?

Elaine Marino: 01:21:35 Uh, I would like to say to anyone that is in a leadership position to research inclusive leadership practices. Harvard Business Review has some articles on it. Deloitte came up with, uh, six principles of inclusive leadership. It's really about being a great leader and what great leaders do, but what great leaders do are actually creating an inclusive environment. And so when we were talking earlier about diversity of thought and being in that room and speaking up and saying, well, this should be really accessible for the deaf community. You can only do that as a marginalized person if you feel safe in the room. And the only way to feel safe is it the leader has set the tone that this is an inclusive environment and has created psychological safety. So I would highly recommend for all leaders to learn how to be an inclusive leader.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:22:21 Love it. Where can people find you on the interwebs?

Elaine Marino: 01:22:25 Woo. My goodness. Linkedin and my website is equally E Q U I (dot) L I, uh, you can also find me on Instagram @_equili. Same thing with Twitter. Uh, and then I'm pretty much my handle for both Twitter and Instagram are at Elaine_Marino. I was super boring and those are my handles now.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:22:51 Well Elaine, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for this amazing conversation. I could talk to you about this for hours, so I really appreciate it and keep up the great work. Thank you again and have a wonderful evening.

Elaine Marino: 01:23:03 Thank you. You as well. So appreciate you having me, you giving me a voice and for all the work that you're doing. And thank you again for sharing your, um, your story. That was really meaningful. I really appreciate it.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:23:17 I love this conversation and I love where we're able to go with it because I think the more of us that have this conversation and continue to, to really try to dive in and, and figure out where we each can, where we come from and where we can each come together to be able to make an impact and make a difference in and really do something about this topic that for me is important and is something that I feel like in 2019 we should move on from. And I know some of you are probably not going to agree with me on that and I find that to be unfortunate because I believe that we, there's only one race and that's the human race. And as a traveler around the world, I wholeheartedly love other cultures and love meeting people from all over and going to their countries and learning about their culture, whether it's food or art or history or their architecture, whatever it might be.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:24:23 I absolutely love it. I caught the bug several years ago and just I, I just, I love what you comes from travel and what you can learn about other peoples by going to their country and getting out of your backyard. And I am a huge proponent for that and I really feel like that's been something, especially when you go to places that are not as affluent as thing we are here in the states, when you see what it's like in other countries where you can't just hop over and you know, hit a pub down the street or have food delivered to your door or you know, have that have Uber or any of these things that we've now incorporated into our lives and take for granted. It really shines a light on what we do and don't have depending on where you live. And I think it also helps shine a light on how diverse we are.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:25:21 I mean, when you hear the different dialects in places around the world, even in just a little pocket of a country, how different languages can be from one town to the next, it really reinforces how amazingly diverse we are. And I feel like that is also part of this conversation is just around how, how diversity is part of what makes us amazing as humans. And it's part of what makes companies amazing is by having diversity and having a culture that is safe for people to be who they are and to express themselves. And that's part of what I want for you is be able to be free to express yourself just like I am right now. I know this is a little bit longer of a rant, but this is a really important topic to me and I think it really is at the core of a lot of issues that people have, whether it's men and women, young and old or people of different color. And I really feel like once we start to take a moment and listen to other people and hear what they have to say and get their perspective and stop thinking about what we want to say or what we're dealing with and being selfish about what privileges we may have and start to listen to the privileges that others don't, that we can start to move forward. And do something about it. So I appreciate you letting me take a moment to talk about it.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:26:54 And without further ado, well that's it for this episode. If this is your first time listening, thank you so much for being here. I really hope you enjoy the show. The Vitalic Project podcast comes out bi-weekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment and all links and show notes for this episode can be found at vitalicproject.com. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the show and leave a rating and review on iTunes. If you'd like to be a guest or know someone, that would be a great fit, please go to vitalicproject.com/guest. If you want to follow us, you can find us online by searching @vitalicproject. And thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep being vitalic!